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Apartment Hunting: Davis Edition

As a first-year in college, I had only lived in the dorms for a month before I got asked if I had started apartment hunting yet. This was shocking. I had no idea what the process was for finding an apartment, or how to find roommates. I am pretty shy, so I didn’t become super close friends with anyone early in the school year. When I heard that some people start apartment hunting in January, I was very worried. Everything ended up fine in the end, but it was hard to figure out on my own. Because the pandemic has caused us to be in online classes all year, I am sure many people are now in a similar situation, especially considering the uncertainty about whether next year’s classes will be in-person. Therefore, this article will go through some resources and tips that I hope you will find useful for your apartment hunting in Davis. The first thing you should do when you begin the apartment hunting process is to decide based on your budget and what you are looking for. I should say that I live with roommates in an off-campus apartment complex in Davis, so I do not know as much about finding a house to rent or living in university-affiliated off-campus housing. My rent is about $520 per month, and I have a roommate and two housemates. I have to pay for electricity (PG&E) and internet separately, so that is about an extra $30-$40 a month. This is relatively average in price for a room with a roommate in Davis, but there are definitely cheaper or more expensive options. Apartments tend to get more expensive with factors like the number of roommates, if they have on-site laundry, their proximity to campus, and how new the apartment is. Because of the many apartment complexes in Davis, living in an apartment is generally cheaper than living in a house if you are only living with a few people. If you plan to live with more than 5 other people, a house may be a good option but can be more difficult to find unless you are moving into one with a few people already living in it. 

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Unless you have people you are already planning on living with, I would recommend checking the UC Davis Off-Campus Housing Facebook group. Students post on the page if they are looking for housing, or if they are looking for roommates for the upcoming year. I found my current housing situation through this page, because my now roommates had a person move out, so they had an extra space. However, I toured about five apartments and visited with six potential roommates before I found the right fit. Because there are often scams on Facebook, and we are in a pandemic, I recommend setting up a Zoom call before making any decisions. If you do go meet someone in person (socially distanced and outdoors, of course), make sure you bring a buddy or meet in a public space. 

If you plan on living with roommates or housemates, it is important to make sure your lifestyles and personalities are compatible. Here are some questions that I found helpful to ask potential roommates when I was apartment hunting:

  • How do you divide house chores?
  • What is your sleep schedule like?
  • Do you have people over to the apartment/house often?
  • Do you ever have people sleepover?
  • Do you have any house rules?
  • Is there anything in the apartment/house that everyone shares (kitchen appliances, soap, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc.)?
  • Is it generally quiet or can it be loud at times?
  • Do you share any food or cook meals together?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you smoke or drink?
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • What are your study habits like?
  • Are you pet friendly?
  • Why did your previous roommate move (if applicable)?

Now that we are in a pandemic with an uncertain future, it is also important that you ask about how the person is following COVID-19 guidelines and staying safe. I currently have a friend whose roommates are less serious about COVID-19 restrictions than she is, and it has been a difficult and stressful experience for her.

Besides finding a roommate and apartment situation that fits your needs, it can also be difficult to determine your budget. It is important to assess your income from any jobs you have, your current financial aid, and to discuss housing with your family if they are helping you pay for your education. If you are worried about finding housing that fits your budget, affordable housing resources from the City of Davis can be found here. According to the UC Davis Student Housing Affordability and Insecurity Report for 2017-18, about 18% of UCD students experience some form of housing insecurity or homelessness each year. If you find yourself in a situation where you are struggling to find or pay for a place to live, you are not alone. The Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center on campus has resources to help you find temporary housing or be rehoused. They also have resources about legal services if you find yourself in an unsafe situation. If you are struggling to pay for housing, and your expenses for necessities exceed those estimated by the UC Davis Financial Aid Office, you can also submit a Cost of Attendance Appeal to have the office reconsider your financial aid. This may make you eligible for additional aid, loans, or work-study funds. 

[bf_image id="q7juxv-c4ql48-asdnl3"] Finding your first apartment can be intimidating, especially given the uncertainty that comes with living during a global pandemic. However, there are many resources available, and contrary to common belief, housing for the next school year will not run out by the end of January. There are almost always advertisements for subleases or rooms available on Facebook, even up until the month before Fall Quarter starts. While it is a good idea to start searching early, do not panic if you do not find something right away. It is better to look at many options than to rush into a situation you are not comfortable with. Good luck! You got this.  

Hadlie is a third year at UCD who is majoring in Community and Regional Development. She loves being outside and eating ice cream. In the future she hopes to pursue a career that combines community development with research.
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